The stage of linguistic development before infants begin to speak. This first year of life is quite important for communicative development; che child is social, responsive, and draws caregivers into communicational interaction.

Even one-year-old infants are well already equipped for perceiving speech sounds. At birth, infants can hear and discriminate speech sounds well, and are prepared to begin acquiring language. In the first year of life, there are dramatic changes in the infant's ability to produce sounds, reflecting physical growth, neurological maturation, and experiences with speech sounds. As the infant comes to control her articulatory structures, she progresses from simple cries to babbling to expressive jargon.

Towards the end of the first year, children begin to behave in ways that seem intentionally communicative. They make gestures and vocalizations in a consistent and persistent manner to achieve goals. At the end of the year, the child is ready for the accomplishment that her caregivers view as the beginning of language -- the first word -- but the child has been preparing for that day from the very beginning.

The Development of Language, Jean Gleason

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